Author Topic: Jemima Khan on Julian Assange: how the Wikileaks founder alienated his allies  (Read 5375 times)

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Offline mayya

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Jemima Khan on Julian Assange: how the Wikileaks founder alienated his allies


WikiLeaks – whose mission statement was “to produce a more just society based upon truth” – has been guilty of the same obfuscation and misinformation as those it sought to expose, while its supporters are expected to follow, unquestioningly, in blinkered cultish devotion


BY JEMIMA KHAN PUBLISHED 6 FEBRUARY, 2013 - 12:15
 


 
Julian Assange. Photo: Zed Nelson/INSTITUTE



 
***
I passed through Los Angeles recently on my way to the Sundance Film Festival. I don’t know the place well, but it always feels to me as if it is in limbo and has never grown into a proper city: a municipal playground, populated by restless kidults. Here, people dine at seven and sleep by nine, ferried around in cars, sipping sodas, suspended in a make-believe world, poised in that fake calm between a toddler’s fall and ensuing screams.
 
Its transient, unevolved quality may have something to do with it being a temporary home to a disproportionate number of famous people. There’s a theory about fame: the moment it strikes, it arrests development. Michael Jackson remained suspended in childhood, enjoying sleepovers and funfairs; Winona Ryder an errant teen who dabbled in shoplifting and experimented with pills; George Clooney, a 30-year-old commitment-phobe, never quite ready yet to settle down.
 
Every plan in LA is SBO (“subject to better offer”). Fame infantilises and grants relative impunity. Those that seek it, out of an exaggerated need for admiration or attention, are often the least well equipped to deal with criticism.
 
Julian Assange was the reason I ended up at Sundance, the showcase for international independent film-makers. I was there to attend the premiere of Alex Gibney’s documentary about WikiLeaks, We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, which I executive produced and which Assange denounced before seeing. He objected to the title; WikiLeaks tweeted that it was “an unethical and biased title in the context of pending criminal trials. It is the prosecution’s claim and it is false.”
 
However, as I had previously pointed out to Assange, the title was derived from a comment in the film by Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA, who told Gibney that the US government was in the business of “stealing secrets” from other countries. It was used specifically to highlight the irony of the situation of Bradley Manning, the US army private alleged to be the source of the American intelligence cables leaked to Assange. Manning may be put to death by his own government for doing the very thing to which Hayden so candidly admits.
 
The film wasn’t in the competition at Sundance, as Gibney is a well-known film-maker and it already has a distributor, but that didn’t stop the WikiLeaks account from tweeting: “Anti-#WikiLeaks doc ‘We Steal Secrets’ steals no prizes at Sundance as film is rejected in all 31 categories”.
The problem with Camp Assange is that, in the words of George W Bush, it sees the world as being “with us or against us”. When I told Assange I was part of the We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks team, I suggested that he view it not in terms of being pro- or anti-him, but rather as a film that would be fair and would represent the truth. It would address, directly, the claims of his critics, which needed to be included so that the film could be seen as balanced and could reach people beyond the WikiLeaks congregation. He replied: “If it’s a fair film, it will be pro-Julian Assange.” Beware the celebrity who refers to himself in the third person.
 
It became clear to me that Assange would be willing to co-operate only with an amanuensis and not an independent film-maker such as Gibney, whose nuanced work includes Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room, Client 9: the Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer and Taxi to the Dark Side, for which he won an Oscar. In many ways, the film’s narrative arc mirrors my own journey with Assange, from admiration to demoralisation.
 
***
 
I supported Assange before I ever met him. I knew of his work when he was arrested on allegations of sexual assault in late 2010 and held in solitary confinement and I decided to stand bail for him because I believed that through WikiLeaks he was speaking truth to power and had made many enemies. Although I had concerns about what was rumoured to be a nonchalant attitude towards redactions in the documents he leaked, as well as some doubts about the release of certain cables – for example, the list of infrastructure sites vital to US national security – I felt more passionately that democracy needs strong, free media.
 
Accountability and democratic choice, I deeply believe, are guaranteed by rigorous scrutiny only. As Manning wrote, “without information you cannot make informed decisions as a public”.
 
As editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Assange had created a transparency mechanism to hold governments and corporations to account. I abhor lies and WikiLeaks exposed the most dangerous lies of all – those told to us by our elected governments. WikiLeaks exposed corruption, war crimes, torture and cover-ups. It showed that we were lied to about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; that the US military had deliberately hidden information about systematic torture and civilian casualties, which were much higher than reported. It revealed that Bush and Obama had sanctioned the mass handover of Iraqi prisoners of war from US troops to the Iraqi authorities, knowing they would be tortured.
 
It revealed that America’s ally Pakistan was playing a double game, taking US aid and collaborating with the Taliban. It revealed the existence of a secret American assassination squad, with a terrible record of killing women and children in Afghanistan, and it exposed America’s covert war in Yemen. It laid bare criminal behaviour and corruption by tyrants in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, which in turn helped to fuel the popular anger against repression that gave rise to the Arab spring.
 
Meanwhile, the man accused of leaking the cables, Bradley Manning, was arrested and placed in solitary confinement in an American prison. He was put on suicide watch – against the protests of prison doctors – with his clothes and blankets taken away from him, the cell lights always on. He was cold and deprived of sleep and forced to stand naked at roll-call.
 
There were also calls by American politicians and pundits for the punishment (execution, even) of Assange, the man who had exposed US war crimes – but not for those who sanctioned or perpetrated them. The US justice department mounted an investigation into whether it could use the Espionage Act to put him in jail. A grand jury was convened to consider whether Assange as well as other members of WikiLeaks should be charged with a crime. Rumours emerged of a sealed indictment against him.
 
Under political pressure, Visa and MasterCard stopped processing donations to the WikiLeaks fund, even though, as the former WikiLeaks employee James Ball (who is now a Guardian journalist) points out in We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, they would happily process payments for the Ku Klux Klan. No charges have yet been filed, but I remain convinced that if Assange is prosecuted for espionage the future of investigative journalism everywhere would be in jeopardy.
 
As Bill Leonard, the classification tsar for the Bush administration, says in our film: “The Espionage Act is primarily intended to address situations where individuals pass national defence information over to the enemy in order to allow the enemy to harm us. It would be unprecedented if the Espionage Act was being used to attack individuals who did not do anything more than the New York Times or the Washington Post does every day.”
There is no evidence that US national security was damaged in any way by the leaks, nor indeed that democracy has ever been harmed by an increase in the public’s knowledge and understanding. If Assange is prosecuted in the US for espionage, I suspect even his most disenchanted former supporters will take to the barricades in his defence.
 
The list of alienated and disaffected allies is long: some say they fell out over redactions, some over broken deals, some over money, some over ownership and control. The roll-call includes Assange’s earliest WikiLeaks collaborators, Daniel Domscheit-Berg and “The Architect”, the anonymous technical whizz behind much of the WikiLeaks platform. It also features the journalists with whom he worked on the leaked cables: Nick Davies, David Leigh and Luke Harding of the Guardian; the New York Times team; James Ball; and the Freedom of Information campaigner Heather Brooke. Then there are his former lawyer Mark Stephens; Jamie Byng of Canongate Books, who paid him a reported £500,000 advance for a ghostwritten autobiography for which Assange withdrew his co-operation before publication; the Channel 4 team that made a documentary about him which resulted in his unsuccessful complaint to Ofcom that it was unfair and had invaded his privacy; and his former WikiLeaks team in Iceland.
 
The problem is that WikiLeaks – whose mission statement was “to produce . . . a more just society . . . based upon truth” – has been guilty of the same obfuscation and misinformation as those it sought to expose, while its supporters are expected to follow, unquestioningly, in blinkered, cultish devotion.
 

Photo: Phillip Toledano
 
In August last year, I asked Julian Assange to address the points made by the New Statesman’s legal correspondent, David Allen Green, in a blog entitled “Legal myths about the Assange extradition”. These were myths that, as a vocal supporter, I was concerned I might have spread unwittingly. Despite several attempts to elicit a response, I never received one.
 
I was told that Assange was “very busy”, though I was invited to visit the Ecuadorean embassy, where he had recently taken refuge to avoid extradition, for a photo opportunity, which I declined.
 
I had wanted to ask him about the opinion of objective legal experts who – contrary to the claims made by WikiLeaks – insist that he is no more vulnerable to extradition to the US from Sweden than he is from the UK. The WikiLeaks server was once hosted in Sweden to take advantage of the country’s liberal protections for journalists (in contrast to Ecuador, which ranks 119th in the World Press Freedom Index).
 
After two Swedish women made allegations that Assange had raped and sexually assaulted them in August 2010, Mark Ste­phens, speaking as his lawyer, referred to Sweden as “one of those lickspittle states which used its resources and its facilities for rendition flights”. Yet even WikiLeaks had revealed that in 2006 Sweden stopped rendition flights for the US.
 
Stephens also did not mention that another “lickspittle” state which had involved itself with rendition and torture was the United Kingdom. In any case, onward extradition of Assange from Sweden to the US would still require the consent of the UK, as the original country involved.
Furthermore, the extradition treaty between Sweden and the US prohibits extradition for political or espionage offences and prevents extradition where there is any risk of the death penalty.
 
There have been troubling aspects to the Assange case and questions may need to be asked about the conduct of the Swedish police investigation. The more serious allegation of rape against him, for example, was dropped at one stage and his arrest warrant withdrawn by the Swedish authorities. One of the chief prosecutors in Stockholm, Eva Finne, who had heard the prosecution evidence against Assange, stated: “I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape.”
 
However, ten days later the rape investigation was reopened by the Swedish director of prosecution Marianne Ny.
 
There are also questions about why the public prosecutor waited so long to arrange an interrogation date with Assange (although there were reportedly repeated requests by the prosecution, and it was difficult to contact Assange) and why the prosecutor failed to take up Assange’s offer of being interviewed via video link when there is a precedent for this in Swedish law. (However, it is worth noting that the Swedish prosecutor has said that Assange is wanted not merely for questioning, but for “the purpose of conducting criminal proceedings” – so that he can be arrested and charged.)
 
The timing of the rape allegations and the issuing of the Interpol arrest warrant for Assange in November 2010 initially seemed suspicious to many, including me. They came just two days after the release of the first batch of embarrassing state department cables. Conspiracy theories about the timing were given credibility by Mark Stephens, who attributed the allegations to “dark forces”, saying: “The honey-trap has been sprung.” In an interview with ABC News, Assange said that Swedish prosecutors were withholding evidence which suggested that he had been “set up”. There were claims by his legal team that Interpol red notices of the type issued in his case were reserved for “terrorists and dictators”. In fact, red notices have been issued for drink-driving and making voyeur videos of college students. The two women at the centre of the rape allegations against Assange were subsequently named and defamed on the internet, threatened with rape and pictured with bullseyes on their faces.
 
It may well be that the serious allegations of sexual assault and rape are not substantiated in court, but I have come to the conclusion that these are all matters for Swedish due process and that Assange is undermining both himself and his own transparency agenda – as well as doing the US department of justice a favour – by making his refusal to answer questions in Sweden into a human rights issue. There have been three rounds
in the UK courts and the UK courts have upheld the European Arrest Warrant in his name three times. The women in question have human rights, too, and need resolution. Assange’s noble cause and his wish to avoid a US court does not trump their right to be heard in a Swedish court.
 
I don’t regret putting up bail money for Assange but I did it so that he would be released while awaiting trial, not so that he could avoid answering to the allegations.
 
On the subject of Assange, pundits on both the left and the right have become more interested in tribalism than truth. The attacks on him by his many critics in the press have been virulent and highly personal. Both sides are guilty of creating political caricatures and extinguishing any possibility of ambivalence. “On the other handism” doesn’t make great copy, but in this particular debate everyone is too polarised. The kind of person who spends his life committed to this type of work, wedded to a laptop, undercover, always on the move, with no security, stability or income, is bound to be a bit different. I have seen flashes of Assange’s charm, brilliance and insightfulness – but I have also seen how instantaneous rock-star status has the power to make even the most clear-headed idealist feel that they are above the law and exempt from criticism.
 
We all want a hero. After WikiLeaks released the infamous Collateral Murder video in 2010, showing US troops gunning down a dozen civilians in Iraq, I jokingly asked if Assange was the new Jason Bourne, on the run and persecuted by the state. It would be a tragedy if a man who has done so much good were to end up tolerating only disciples and unwavering devotion, more like an Australian L Ron Hubbard.
 
Jemima Khan is the associate editor of the New Statesman
Editor's note: The full title of the film about Wikileaks "We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks" has now been included in this article.
 
 
http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/02/jemima-khan-julian-assange-how-wikileaks-founder-alienated-his-allies

Linkback: http://www.wikileaks-forum.com/the-critics/632/jemima-khan-on-julian-assange-how-the-wikileaks-founder-alienated-his-allies/28276/


Offline mayya

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email to Jemima Khan regarding her 6th February New Statesman article
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2015, 16:36:12 PM »
Alex Gibney, Jemima Khan, David Allen Green and 'We Steal Secrets'



Joseph P. Farrell (WikiLeaks staff member) email to Jemima Khan regarding her 6th February New Statesman article: 'Jemima Khan on Julian Assange: how the Wikileaks founder alienated his allies'.
 
 
- Forwarded message -
 
Dear Jemima,
 
 
As you can imagine, when I read your article in the New Statesman I was very surprised. I was also shocked, but most of all, I was disappointed.
 
When you told me in September 2011 that Alex Gibney, who had been commissioned by Universal to do a WikiLeaks documentary, had approached you to offer you an Executive Producer position on his film I attempted to ask you subtly why you thought he was offering you the position. My exact words were: "Being called an Executive Producer on one of Alex Gibney's films is full of kudos and will certainly be very helpful in any further documentary projects. I am an inherent cynic (likely augmented by this work) but, if he is not asking for any production money, then it is purely a matter of branding and using your name as an endorsement." Before approaching you, Gibney had already been trying desperately to get an interview with Julian for more than half a year, since February 2011, and had thus far been unsuccessful. I feared he might have been using you, not because he valued your opinions on the film, or because he was likely to ever ask you to produce anything else with him in the future, but because he needed access to Julian. In fact, just two months before the film premiered at Sundance you said to me that you were "getting my agent to insist I see the finished Gibney doc". That, in itself, struck me as an executive producer with very limited executive power.  
 
Without access and without original interview footage, Gibney needed a tool to legitimise his film and add credibility to it. And, in the absence of the exclusive interview with Julian, what better way than to have the journalist celebrity who is publicly known to be a friend of Julian named in the credits? I am certain you were aware of that risk, because when you told me you were accepting the Executive Producer role you said: "I will still try to persuade Julian (via you) to cooperate (as I have done in the past) not because I'm now officially involved in the film – it's not contingent upon any access to Julian – but because I genuinely think he needs friends not enemies now".
 
From the moment Gibney approached us we did extensive research into him. We looked deep and took advice from people who knew him and some who had worked with him. Every colleague, ally, friend and even the documentarians we spoke to advised us against an interview with Gibney. Yet we were open to talks, we were ready for dialogue, and we engaged with him and with Alexis Bloom, his producer. None of our meetings allayed our fears that their piece was not going to be the true story. They did not appear genuine to us and they seemed to have many prejudices about Julian and the organisation. Their angle favoured sensationalism from the beginning, an angle I would have thought you would oppose had you had any influence on the picture.
 
Julian has had significant relationships with hundreds of people. Your list of so-called alienated and disaffected allies is not long: your article mentions nine people, one of whom Julian has never actually even met.
 
You list Mark Stephens, an internationally little-known media lawyer who had a contractual dispute with Julian and who charged Julian more than half a million pounds for a magistrate's court case defence. Yet you overlook Gareth Peirce, "the doyenne of British defence lawyers"; Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and other lawyers at the CCR; Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish judge; Jennifer Robinson, who left Mark Stephens' firm over the issue; Baroness Helena Kennedy QC; Geoffrey Robertson QC, the acclaimed human rights lawyer whose table you sit at regularly; John Jones; Julian Burnside SC and Julian's other lawyers in Australia; his lawyers in Ecuador; the Icelandic lawyers; the Danish lawyers; the Washington lawyers; or any of the rest of an international team of dozens of lawyers who represent or advise Julian and WikiLeaks.
 
You list Jamie Byng, who published an unprepared, unapproved, unfinished manuscript that had not been fact-checked without Julian's knowledge, but you do not mention Colin Robinson or John Oakes of OR Books, with whom Julian has published a successful and acclaimed book without any problems or disagreements. Neither do you mention the more than fifteen other publishers who are releasing his Cypherpunks book in various languages, or indeed the publishers of Underground with whom he has maintained a good relationship for more than fifteen years.
 
You list Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who sabotaged WikiLeaks' anonymous online submission system, first stole and then deleted more than 3,000 submissions evidencing, inter alia, war crimes, corruption and bank fraud. He also started a rival organisation, OpenLeaks, a still-born branding exercise with zero publications. His entire livelihood is earned by constantly backstabbing the man who fired him.
 
You list a person, who you incorrectly describe as "the technical whizz behind much of the WikiLeaks platform", who was in actual fact a technician contracted to upgrade our submission platform according to Julian's architectural design specifications. He was first referred to in Domscheit-Berg's book as "the architect", a propaganda term invented by Domscheit-Berg for his book well after he was suspended from WikiLeaks. The term is clearly designed as an attempt to steal Julian's creative authority. But you are correct that this is the way that he is portrayed in Daniel Domscheit-Berg's book, which contains numerous falsehoods. I am, as I have always been, at your disposal to clarify those stories that are promoted in an attempt to harm WikiLeaks and Julian and to give you the true facts. Had I known you had an interest in the architectural make-up of the submissions platform and its coding genesis, I could have explained this to you further in person.
 
You list the Guardian and the New York Times, the two organisations who broke their agreements with us. One of the contractual clauses that the Guardian broke was to disclose a password that unlocked a list to all the diplomatic cables, which it published in its book in an act of gross negligence. Both the Guardian and the New York Times have written factually incorrect books about us to whitewash their deceitful actions, which they continue to profit from and promote. You don't, however, mention the 110 media partners with whom we have ongoing working relationships, some of whom have also written books about WikiLeaks but who donate all the profits to us, as a gesture and in solidarity to help us circumvent a banking blockade that has eroded the majority of our resources.
 
Why don't you list the hundreds of activists, researchers and publishers who play a day-to-day role in WikiLeaks' operations – the technicians who maintain servers; the developers, mathematicians and cryptographers who build new search interfaces and oversee the internal security protocol; those who curate data for us; the investigators who corroborate submitted material; or the managers and administrators who plan and bring projects to fruition?
 
 
Why don't you list the allies and friends across the world who enjoy a close personal relationship with Julian and who are part of the same support community that you once were – the more than 150 people you spent time with at Julian's private 40th birthday party, to which Julian was generous enough to invite even Alex Gibney?
 
Is it because they do not seek acclaim in the press and because they do not say negative things about Julian, and hence have zero currency in the news?
 
As to falling out with Alex Gibney, Julian never fell out with him - Gibney was never a friend in the first place so there was never any relationship to fall apart. Alex Gibney was just another one in a long list of people trying to cash in on Julian and WikiLeaks. You may remember me saying how utterly offensive I find it that there are all these people out there who are benefiting financially from Julian, while the organisation suffers a banking blockade and lawyers have eaten away all of his personal funds.
 
You asked me for a response to David Allen Green's article on 20th August 2012 and I told you that it was being produced. I told you that your request for this response did not go directly to Julian as you thought it had, but instead that it came to me. My email to you after we met said: "I will get you a response to the DAG article and, as I said, blame me, not him, for the lack of response." What you asked for was not as simple as you thought, which was that Julian could probably rattle off the legal sections and sub-sections by heart - the response was far more complicated than that.
 
I have attached it. It is 55,972 words long, which is roughly 70 per cent of the length of a doctoral thesis. Julian's legal defence committee prioritised this and asked a person to look into the arguments in depth, in order to produce a compelling response due to the harm caused by David Allen Green's misinformation. It was peer-reviewed and revised and took six months to produce for you - a time resource that does not come cheap to a defence committee that has to deal with simultaneous challenges, David Allen Green being just one. Something of this length and detail ought to have taken three years to produce.
 
I did not merely tell you that Julian was "very busy". You know that. What I did say was that he was very busy and that we were a very small core team. Your email asking for a response to the David Allen Green piece was written the day after Julian made his first speech in public since he had entered the embassy, four days after he formally obtained asylum and only five days after the embassy was surrounded by more than 50 Metropolitan police who were preparing to force their way into the diplomatic mission to get him. On top of this, we were still publishing the Syria Files and we had just begun a new release, the Detainee Policies. I told you that since the establishment of the Guantanamo Bay prison facility none of the world's media and none of the world's NGOs had released a single Guantanamo Bay Manual, and we had just released our third. During all of this, we were also dealing with the vitriol coming from the UK establishment media while Julian was having his asylum claim evidence reviewed. He was (and still is) in fear of being extradited onwards to the United States, he had not been outside in more than two months, and he was overseeing the publication of hundreds of thousands of documents.
 
Over a lunch you questioned this fear of extradition to the US, and when I asked you what you would do in his position you refused to answer the question. I asked you more than six times what you would do in his shoes. Having offered to cooperate with the Swedish investigation non-stop for the past two years and been refused with no proper explanation, and believing that you would end up in an American prison for decades, in solitary confinement and under SAMs, what would you do? You never gave me a concrete answer. Instead, you skirted the question with another question and discounted the numerous legal opinions out there, favouring instead an article by David Allen Green. I reiterated that Julian had never said that it would be likely in practice that he would face the death penalty, although the Espionage Act permits this. But more to the point, and one that everyone always ignores, there was (and still is) the fear of being extradited to face life imprisonment and almost certainly torture or other inhumane and degrading treatment for his publishing activities.
 
I told you that the Swedish authorities could, if they wanted to, charge Julian in absentia. Even if they were to do that, they should, according to their own procedures, conduct an interview with him before requesting his extradition. I repeated that he remains available even in the embassy for questioning by the Swedish authorities should they wish to employ the standard procedures they use regularly in other cases.
 
I explained to you how the argument that "he is no more vulnerable to extradition to the US from Sweden than he is from the UK" is a red herring. I explained why the US had not already requested his extradition from the UK, because this would create a case of competing extradition requests that the Home Secretary would have to judicially review and prioritise one over the other, thereby creating political embarrassment for a major ally whichever way the decision went. I cited the US Ambassador's own admission that the US would wait to see what happened with the Swedish case before they made a move. I was careful to explain this with Jennifer Robinson present to add a legal perspective if needed. However, in spite of this explanation, you allowed this claim not only to go into your article but also to remain in Gibney's film - expressed in remarks made by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC that have been misleadingly edited to remove their proper context. She has since said that she "did not expect that he [Gibney] would fillet my interview" and also says "I regret thinking I could present a sensible perspective".
 
Irrespective of my explanations and those of two lawyers whose counsel you seek yourself, you could have spoken to Julian in person. He did call you - more than once. You could have called back. You could have come to visit him to check on his well-being, as many others have done. On that note, you were never invited just for a "photo opportunity". You were invited to the embassy by us in September but you heard that there was a paparazzi waiting outside the embassy. This is no great surprise following the biggest diplomatic incident in recent years. However, you knew about it beforehand and avoided it. Then I relayed a request from Vivienne Westwood's team, asking you if you would model her "I am Julian Assange" t-shirt at her fashion show. The request came after you had already said you were unavailable even to attend her show. This was her idea and her request. She was trying to do something to help us and thought you would want to do the same. You were also invited to visit Julian shortly after he entered the embassy on 22nd June; for tea and cake on his birthday on 3rd July; for a sureties' get-together in late July; for afternoon tea on 11th September and again on the 9th October; and for a breakfast meeting on the 21st December. All of which you declined. These are all times when you could have asked Julian in person about your issues. As you will recall from your discussion the last time you saw him, in December 2011, he enjoys debate and disagreement. How do you know that Julian had not seen the Gibney film by the time it premiered? We do not steal secrets but people leak things to us. Irrespective of the "ironic" meaning behind the title of the film you claim it has, it will not be understood by the general public with that meaning. What they will see is a straightforward conjunction of a quote, a proper noun and the word "story", and they will read it as such. It is tantamount to someone doing a documentary about you and calling it "I am a War Apologist: The Jemima Khan Story" because they had interviewed someone completely unrelated to you and quoted them saying "I am a war apologist".
 
It is one thing to publicly disagree with someone, or even to distance oneself in public from a former ally, but it is quite another to use one's own publication to the further harm of a political refugee suffering the persecution of a superpower. I imagine you must have vetted the magazine cover, which claims that Julian is 'alone'. Julian is not alone. That New Statesman front page was used to harm the entire WikiLeaks project out of disaffection. It was also an attempt to cast a shadow on all his allies. And yet you were the one who said: "he needs friends not enemies..". Julian has both friends and enemies. He does not need or seek friends who only agree with him (in fact, I have not met one non-argumentative friend of his) but he certainly does not need friends who are in fact enemies.
 
From the point of view of defending a film in which you feature as "Executive Producer", your actions are straightforward: your name is on the credits of a dated WikiLeaks documentary with a prejudicial title which features all the hostile people who haven't had anything to do with WikiLeaks in years. You chose a production credit over principle and in doing so attacked a vulnerable political activist and fellow journalist, something which I know to be beneath you.
 
In disappointment,
 
Joseph Farrell
 
 
The WikiLeaks response David Allen Green's New Statesman article is now on:http://justice4assange.com/extraditing-assange.html
 
Jemima Khan's New Statesman article can be found here and John Pilger's response to it is here. Alex Gibney's response to John Pilger's article can be found here, WikiLeaks response to it can be found in the article's comments section and there is a correction of the facts of the article by John Pilger at the bottom.




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Offline jujyjuji

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" Before approaching you, Gibney had already been trying desperately to get an interview with Julian for more than half a year, since February 2011, and had thus far been unsuccessful. I feared he might have been using you, not because he valued your opinions on the film, or because he was likely to ever ask you to produce anything else with him in the future, but because he needed access to Julian. ..."


Exactly the reason why Julian can't complain at all if he recives "too much" criticism in Gibney's documentary and by others!
If he doesn't communicate with people, people do their job without him and after he attacks the mentioned people for having acted against his will.
He's totally OUT and being disappointed on what Jemima Kahn did -it was her full right partecipating to the Gibney's documentary- is quite silly.


Farrel is a WL staffer and his view is pro-Assange and WL only, obviously.


But with a lucid view the main part of those who criticized Assange and had problems with him are ALL ex volunteers or supporters; DDB included; and expressed very important reasons for opposing his behaviors.


Here as Assange refused to work with Gibney, someonelse did it. And those who watched the film reported it was just neutral.




"Why don't you list the hundreds of activists, researchers and publishers who play a day-to-day role in WikiLeaks' operations – the technicians who maintain servers; the developers, mathematicians and cryptographers who build new search interfaces and oversee the internal security protocol; those who curate data for us; the investigators who corroborate submitted material; or the managers and administrators who plan and bring projects to fruition?"


Probably ecause the main part of them are all fanatics and stalkers; or people that simply worship Assange. And the critics aren't usually so extreme. Only Wikileaks aka Assange demonized them.


I've been talking with the critics when I was a supporter and they disagreed with me, but have been polite and none of them never ever harassed or stalked me.
When I became a critic instead, always for the same reasons of the other critics: noticing that Assange's actions weren't so reliable and he grossly lied to discredit the critics, a big part of WL-supporter-contacts that i was in contact with turned to be cynic, cold, and even violated my privacy for revenge against other people; they forgot whatever human empathy and started revealing names, names of the kids of the WL critics, names of famiiars, etc. all of this in the name of supporting Assange and/or WikiLeaks.
This has become "the Cult of Assange"; these people have rarely blogged anything having studied The Leaks (a part from some exceptions).
And even the pro-WL journalists are often willing to be blind on evident Assange's lies or misinformation spread via twitter (some of them behave so).


So I'm really not surprised J.Khan has decided to partecipate to the production of a doc. where also critics have a say. She did well in my opinion.

Offline JadeWebster

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Jemima Khan on Julian Assange: how the Wikileaks founder alienated his allies


WikiLeaks – whose mission statement was “to produce a more just society based upon truth” – has been guilty of the same obfuscation and misinformation as those it sought to expose, while its supporters are expected to follow, unquestioningly, in blinkered cultish devotion


BY JEMIMA KHAN PUBLISHED 6 FEBRUARY, 2013 - 12:15
 


 
Julian Assange. Photo: Zed Nelson/INSTITUTE



 
***
I passed through Los Angeles recently on my way to the Sundance Film Festival. I don’t know the place well, but it always feels to me as if it is in limbo and has never grown into a proper city: a municipal playground, populated by restless kidults. Here, people dine at seven and sleep by nine, ferried around in cars, sipping sodas, suspended in a make-believe world, poised in that fake calm between a toddler’s fall and ensuing screams.
 
Its transient, unevolved quality may have something to do with it being a temporary home to a disproportionate number of famous people. There’s a theory about fame: the moment it strikes, it arrests development. Michael Jackson remained suspended in childhood, enjoying sleepovers and funfairs; Winona Ryder an errant teen who dabbled in shoplifting and experimented with pills; George Clooney, a 30-year-old commitment-phobe, never quite ready yet to settle down.
 
Every plan in LA is SBO (“subject to better offer”). Fame infantilises and grants relative impunity. Those that seek it, out of an exaggerated need for admiration or attention, are often the least well equipped to deal with criticism.
 
Julian Assange was the reason I ended up at Sundance, the showcase for international independent film-makers. I was there to attend the premiere of Alex Gibney’s documentary about WikiLeaks, We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, which I executive produced and which Assange denounced before seeing. He objected to the title; WikiLeaks tweeted that it was “an unethical and biased title in the context of pending criminal trials. It is the prosecution’s claim and it is false.”
 
However, as I had previously pointed out to Assange, the title was derived from a comment in the film by Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA, who told Gibney that the US government was in the business of “stealing secrets” from other countries. It was used specifically to highlight the irony of the situation of Bradley Manning, the US army private alleged to be the source of the American intelligence cables leaked to Assange. Manning may be put to death by his own government for doing the very thing to which Hayden so candidly admits.
 
The film wasn’t in the competition at Sundance, as Gibney is a well-known film-maker and it already has a distributor, but that didn’t stop the WikiLeaks account from tweeting: “Anti-#WikiLeaks doc ‘We Steal Secrets’ steals no prizes at Sundance as film is rejected in all 31 categories”.
The problem with Camp Assange is that, in the words of George W Bush, it sees the world as being “with us or against us”. When I told Assange I was part of the We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks team, I suggested that he view it not in terms of being pro- or anti-him, but rather as a film that would be fair and would represent the truth. It would address, directly, the claims of his critics, which needed to be included so that the film could be seen as balanced and could reach people beyond the WikiLeaks congregation. He replied: “If it’s a fair film, it will be pro-Julian Assange.” Beware the celebrity who refers to himself in the third person.
 
It became clear to me that Assange would be willing to co-operate only with an amanuensis and not an independent film-maker such as Gibney, whose nuanced work includes Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room, Client 9: the Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer and Taxi to the Dark Side, for which he won an Oscar. In many ways, the film’s narrative arc mirrors my own journey with Assange, from admiration to demoralisation.
 
***
 
I supported Assange before I ever met him. I knew of his work when he was arrested on allegations of sexual assault in late 2010 and held in solitary confinement and I decided to stand bail for him because I believed that through WikiLeaks he was speaking truth to power and had made many enemies. Although I had concerns about what was rumoured to be a nonchalant attitude towards redactions in the documents he leaked, as well as some doubts about the release of certain cables – for example, the list of infrastructure sites vital to US national security – I felt more passionately that democracy needs strong, free media.
 
Accountability and democratic choice, I deeply believe, are guaranteed by rigorous scrutiny only. As Manning wrote, “without information you cannot make informed decisions as a public”.
 
As editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Assange had created a transparency mechanism to hold governments and corporations to account. I abhor lies and WikiLeaks exposed the most dangerous lies of all – those told to us by our elected governments. WikiLeaks exposed corruption, war crimes, torture and cover-ups. It showed that we were lied to about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; that the US military had deliberately hidden information about systematic torture and civilian casualties, which were much higher than reported. It revealed that Bush and Obama had sanctioned the mass handover of Iraqi prisoners of war from US troops to the Iraqi authorities, knowing they would be tortured.
 
It revealed that America’s ally Pakistan was playing a double game, taking US aid and collaborating with the Taliban. It revealed the existence of a secret American assassination squad, with a terrible record of killing women and children in Afghanistan, and it exposed America’s covert war in Yemen. It laid bare criminal behaviour and corruption by tyrants in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, which in turn helped to fuel the popular anger against repression that gave rise to the Arab spring.
 
Meanwhile, the man accused of leaking the cables, Bradley Manning, was arrested and placed in solitary confinement in an American prison. He was put on suicide watch – against the protests of prison doctors – with his clothes and blankets taken away from him, the cell lights always on. He was cold and deprived of sleep and forced to stand naked at roll-call.
 
There were also calls by American politicians and pundits for the punishment (execution, even) of Assange, the man who had exposed US war crimes – but not for those who sanctioned or perpetrated them. The US justice department mounted an investigation into whether it could use the Espionage Act to put him in jail. A grand jury was convened to consider whether Assange as well as other members of WikiLeaks should be charged with a crime. Rumours emerged of a sealed indictment against him.
 
Under political pressure, Visa and MasterCard stopped processing donations to the WikiLeaks fund, even though, as the former WikiLeaks employee James Ball (who is now a Guardian journalist) points out in We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, they would happily process payments for the Ku Klux Klan. No charges have yet been filed, but I remain convinced that if Assange is prosecuted for espionage the future of investigative journalism everywhere would be in jeopardy.
 
As Bill Leonard, the classification tsar for the Bush administration, says in our film: “The Espionage Act is primarily intended to address situations where individuals pass national defence information over to the enemy in order to allow the enemy to harm us. It would be unprecedented if the Espionage Act was being used to attack individuals who did not do anything more than the New York Times or the Washington Post does every day.”
There is no evidence that US national security was damaged in any way by the leaks, nor indeed that democracy has ever been harmed by an increase in the public’s knowledge and understanding. If Assange is prosecuted in the US for espionage, I suspect even his most disenchanted former supporters will take to the barricades in his defence.
 
The list of alienated and disaffected allies is long: some say they fell out over redactions, some over broken deals, some over money, some over ownership and control. The roll-call includes Assange’s earliest WikiLeaks collaborators, Daniel Domscheit-Berg and “The Architect”, the anonymous technical whizz behind much of the WikiLeaks platform. It also features the journalists with whom he worked on the leaked cables: Nick Davies, David Leigh and Luke Harding of the Guardian; the New York Times team; James Ball; and the Freedom of Information campaigner Heather Brooke. Then there are his former lawyer Mark Stephens; Jamie Byng of Canongate Books, who paid him a reported £500,000 advance for a ghostwritten autobiography for which Assange withdrew his co-operation before publication; the Channel 4 team that made a documentary about him which resulted in his unsuccessful complaint to Ofcom that it was unfair and had invaded his privacy; and his former WikiLeaks team in Iceland.
 
The problem is that WikiLeaks – whose mission statement was “to produce . . . a more just society . . . based upon truth” – has been guilty of the same obfuscation and misinformation as those it sought to expose, while its supporters are expected to follow, unquestioningly, in blinkered, cultish devotion.
 

Photo: Phillip Toledano
 
In August last year, I asked Julian Assange to address the points made by the New Statesman’s legal correspondent, David Allen Green, in a blog entitled “Legal myths about the Assange extradition”. These were myths that, as a vocal supporter, I was concerned I might have spread unwittingly. Despite several attempts to elicit a response, I never received one.
 
I was told that Assange was “very busy”, though I was invited to visit the Ecuadorean embassy, where he had recently taken refuge to avoid extradition, for a photo opportunity, which I declined.
 
I had wanted to ask him about the opinion of objective legal experts who – contrary to the claims made by WikiLeaks – insist that he is no more vulnerable to extradition to the US from Sweden than he is from the UK. The WikiLeaks server was once hosted in Sweden to take advantage of the country’s liberal protections for journalists (in contrast to Ecuador, which ranks 119th in the World Press Freedom Index).
 
After two Swedish women made allegations that Assange had raped and sexually assaulted them in August 2010, Mark Ste­phens, speaking as his lawyer, referred to Sweden as “one of those lickspittle states which used its resources and its facilities for rendition flights”. Yet even WikiLeaks had revealed that in 2006 Sweden stopped rendition flights for the US.
 
Stephens also did not mention that another “lickspittle” state which had involved itself with rendition and torture was the United Kingdom. In any case, onward extradition of Assange from Sweden to the US would still require the consent of the UK, as the original country involved.
Furthermore, the extradition treaty between Sweden and the US prohibits extradition for political or espionage offences and prevents extradition where there is any risk of the death penalty.
 
There have been troubling aspects to the Assange case and questions may need to be asked about the conduct of the Swedish police investigation. The more serious allegation of rape against him, for example, was dropped at one stage and his arrest warrant withdrawn by the Swedish authorities. One of the chief prosecutors in Stockholm, Eva Finne, who had heard the prosecution evidence against Assange, stated: “I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape.”
 
However, ten days later the rape investigation was reopened by the Swedish director of prosecution Marianne Ny.
 
There are also questions about why the public prosecutor waited so long to arrange an interrogation date with Assange (although there were reportedly repeated requests by the prosecution, and it was difficult to contact Assange) and why the prosecutor failed to take up Assange’s offer of being interviewed via video link when there is a precedent for this in Swedish law. (However, it is worth noting that the Swedish prosecutor has said that Assange is wanted not merely for questioning, but for “the purpose of conducting criminal proceedings” – so that he can be arrested and charged.)
 
The timing of the rape allegations and the issuing of the Interpol arrest warrant for Assange in November 2010 initially seemed suspicious to many, including me. They came just two days after the release of the first batch of embarrassing state department cables. Conspiracy theories about the timing were given credibility by Mark Stephens, who attributed the allegations to “dark forces”, saying: “The honey-trap has been sprung.” In an interview with ABC News, Assange said that Swedish prosecutors were withholding evidence which suggested that he had been “set up”. There were claims by his legal team that Interpol red notices of the type issued in his case were reserved for “terrorists and dictators”. In fact, red notices have been issued for drink-driving and making voyeur videos of college students. The two women at the centre of the rape allegations against Assange were subsequently named and defamed on the internet, threatened with rape and pictured with bullseyes on their faces.
 
It may well be that the serious allegations of sexual assault and rape are not substantiated in court, but I have come to the conclusion that these are all matters for Swedish due process and that Assange is undermining both himself and his own transparency agenda – as well as doing the US department of justice a favour – by making his refusal to answer questions in Sweden into a human rights issue. There have been three rounds
in the UK courts and the UK courts have upheld the European Arrest Warrant in his name three times. The women in question have human rights, too, and need resolution. Assange’s noble cause and his wish to avoid a US court does not trump their right to be heard in a Swedish court.
 
I don’t regret putting up bail money for Assange but I did it so that he would be released while awaiting trial, not so that he could avoid answering to the allegations.
 
On the subject of Assange, pundits on both the left and the right have become more interested in tribalism than truth. The attacks on him by his many critics in the press have been virulent and highly personal. Both sides are guilty of creating political caricatures and extinguishing any possibility of ambivalence. “On the other handism” doesn’t make great copy, but in this particular debate everyone is too polarised. The kind of person who spends his life committed to this type of work, wedded to a laptop, undercover, always on the move, with no security, stability or income, is bound to be a bit different. I have seen flashes of Assange’s charm, brilliance and insightfulness – but I have also seen how instantaneous rock-star status has the power to make even the most clear-headed idealist feel that they are above the law and exempt from criticism.
 
We all want a hero. After WikiLeaks released the infamous Collateral Murder video in 2010, showing US troops gunning down a dozen civilians in Iraq, I jokingly asked if Assange was the new Jason Bourne, on the run and persecuted by the state. It would be a tragedy if a man who has done so much good were to end up tolerating only disciples and unwavering devotion, more like an Australian L Ron Hubbard.
 
Jemima Khan is the associate editor of the New Statesman
Editor's note: The full title of the film about Wikileaks "We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks" has now been included in this article.
 
 
http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/02/jemima-khan-julian-assange-how-wikileaks-founder-alienated-his-allies
Excellent article from Jemima Khan.


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